St. Al’s Mathews nabs silver medal at MAIS Class 5A meet

Published 9:02 pm Saturday, May 7, 2022

FLOWOOD — St. Aloysius’ Cati Mathews had a good day that was two steps away from being a great one.

The senior sprinter finished second in the Class 5A girls 300 meter hurdles, just .17 seconds — about a foot ­— behind Simpson Academy’s Chloe Shomon at the MAIS Overall Track Meet on Saturday.

Mathews ran a personal-best time of 46.40 seconds, but Shomon improved her time from last week’s North State meet by more than three seconds to win a hotly contested race.

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“She’s never ran that good. She’s always ran 48, 49, and today she wanted it. It was a good race,” Mathews said.

Mathews and Shomon were in a two-woman race by the midway point. The third-place finisher, Maggie Shivers of Simpson Academy, crossed the line in 49.02 seconds.

Neither could separate from the other, though, and Shomon edged ahead on the next-to-last set of hurdles. She maintained the lead through the final hurdle and the last 10 yards to the finish line to deny Mathews her second consecutive state championship in the event.

“It was on the last straightaway,” Mathews said of the moment she knew it would come down to the end. “That’s usually when I don’t see anybody, and she was right next to me. It makes me more nervous because it’s like you have to keep going, keep going, don’t give up. Usually when there’s nobody around me I don’t really have to give it my all and I can stride in. This time I was giving it my all until I crossed the finish line.”

The silver medal was the only one Mathews won in four events on Saturday. She teamed with Megan Theriot, Ally Doiron and Presley Brister to finish sixth in the 4×200 meter relay and fifth in the 4×100 relay. Mathews then went solo again in the 100 meter hurdles and finished fifth with a time of 17.41 seconds.

All four events were run in a span of about 3 1/2 hours. The 300 hurdles and 4×200 were run 35 minutes apart, as were the 4×100 and 100 hurdles. It made for a tiring morning to wrap up a stellar track and field career.

Mathews won six state meet medals and one championship in six seasons with St. Al’s varsity team.

“I’m happy. I’m tired. Extremely tired. It was difficult. But I will say the district (meet) was 10 times worse having to do six events in 3 1/2 hours. I’m very dehydrated,” a clearly exhausted Mathews said after her final event. “I’m going to miss the coach and I’m going to miss my team the most. Other than running, I’m going to miss everything about it.”

While Mathews finished her high school track career, freshman distance runner Samantha Edwards showed plenty of potential in her second state meet.

Edwards posted a personal best time of 12 minutes, 55.94 seconds — 36 seconds better than her time at last week’s South State meet — to finish fifth in the 3,200 meters.

Edwards finished sixth in Class 4A in the 800 meters in 2021 and won the Class 5A cross country championship last fall. She didn’t start running the 3,200 meters until halfway through the season, so being one of the top five runners in Class 5A wasn’t a bad ending, she said.

“I think I could have done better because I’m pretty sure my pace from cross country season was faster than that,” Edwards said. But I didn’t know I was going to be running the two miles. I was running the 800 for half my season. I wasn’t even thinking about the 3,200. I’m really glad that I was able to make it here.”

Simpson Academy’s Layla Warren won the 3,200 meters with a time of 11:59.98, and her teammate Lilly Overby was second in 12:20.51. East Rankin Academy’s Leah Collipp was third in 12:30.32.

Silliman Institute’s Natalie Payne outran Edwards in the last 100 meters to finish fourth. Once the pack separated midway through the race, Payne drafted close behind Edwards for about two laps and then made her move coming out of the final turn.

Payne showed a strong finishing kick and beat Edwards by four seconds.

“I kind of wish I had stayed behind (Payne) for most of the race and got under her with a kick like she did. But oh well. Just for future reference,” Edwards said. “She had a little more energy at the end.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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